Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Learn about quality assurance and quality control, their differences, and the three quality assurance and quality control methods you can use to boost your quality standards and practices

Published 24 Aug 2021

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance (QA) is a system of principles, methods, protocols, and procedures established and maintained by a company to ensure that the quality of their products and services is consistently high and compliant with organizational and regulatory standards. QA assists workers in meeting quality objectives for each product or service rendered.

How is QA Different from Quality Control?

Whereas QA is focused on the manufacturing process or the processes involved in producing the output, quality control (QC) is the quality inspection of products to evaluate if they pass certain quality standards before being shipped out to customers. QC aims to catch deficiencies in quality while QA aims to prevent deficiencies from occurring.

quality assurance and quality control

Quality Assurance and Quality Control | Start with this Basic QA Inspection Checklist

The Importance of Both

Good quality assurance and quality control are two of the most important elements of a successful operation. Achieving, ensuring, and maintaining the quality of your goods and services are paramount to making your customers happy and keep them coming back.

“Quality is everyone’s responsibility.” – W. Edwards Deming, engineer, statistician, professor, and author

  • Why is QA Important?

    Products and services of good quality create demand, meeting demand generates profit, and profit is used to create supply and meet demand. This is the cycle of success which starts when a company achieves, ensures, and maintains good quality through quality assurance.

  • Why is QC Important?

    People have varying ideas on what quality is supposed to be. Yet, in the context of products and services they pay for, the work they provide, and the life they aim to live, each person desires and strives for good quality. Though people can be frugal when they want to be, most are willing to pay more for products and services they judge to be of good quality. This is the reason why successful companies go to great lengths and spend considerable amounts of time, money, and resources on quality.

What is a Quality Plan?

A quality plan is a collection of documents or a comprehensive document that specifies quality standards to be met, provides processes to be followed, and identifies resources needed to produce an output that meets customer specifications. With quality assurance, quality control, and quality management as its elements, a quality plan also helps ensure that the product or services align with organizational goals and objectives.

  • What is a QAP?

    Built by a project team and usually based on PDCA technique, a quality assurance plan is a document that provides a guideline with the intent to produce products or services that meet customer requirements and expectations.

  • What is a QCP?

    A QCP is a document that provides processes and defines milestones in production where products or services are to be inspected to ensure that they are meeting specifications.

Difference Between the Two

While both aim to catch deficiencies in quality, QAP intends to lay down processes aiming to produce output that performs as expected while QCP aims to catch deficiencies in output usually through inspections.
QAP intends to prevent defects in output.
QCP catches defects in output.

Quality Plan Template

Whether QAP or QCP, both quality plans follow a process that aims to achieve the highest quality possible. Here is an example of a quality plan template that is universally recognized: ISO 9001:2015 quality plan template.

Quality in Manufacturing

This section contains a brief overview of the history of quality assurance and quality control as well as a beginner’s introduction to the common ISO standards in use today.

Guilds: The Early Pioneers of Quality

In the middle ages, manufacturing and commerce enjoyed a period of growth that helped artisans gain prominence as valued craftsmen. Guilds became an important factor in this period’s product and service quality, similar to today’s ISO.

A guild is an association by the workers, for the workers. Typically, each territory would have their own merchant guild (sellers of goods and services) and craft guild (blacksmiths, masons, bakers, haberdashers, and other workers that serve the essentials of daily living). 

Guilds screened applicants and shouldered the apprenticeship costs of new members. Aside from training guild members in the industry’s best practices, guilds also performed inspections to ensure that the products and services of their members complied with the accepted standards of the time.

How the Industrial Revolution Shaped Quality

The next significant period in the development of QA and QC was the First Industrial Revolution. According to Prof. Christoph Roser, it began in 1715, when Englishman John Lombe went to Italy to copy an Italian design for a mechanized silk loom. In subsequent years, division of labor was put into practice. This made the entire production process more efficient and improved quality assurance because it allowed workers and machines to focus on a single task.

In the early 19th century, Americans Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford advocated industrial efficiency, with the latter becoming famous for developing the assembly line as a method of mass production.

What is ISO and Why is it Important?

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, with a current membership of 165 countries or national standards bodies. It is the world’s leading authority and regulatory body for safety and quality standards in manufacturing and service. 

What are ISO Standards?

ISO standards are specific criteria set by ISO to cover different aspects of business and manufacturing operations. To earn a coveted ISO standard certification, a company has to request and pass a third-party ISO audit performed by a national or regional certification body. 

Aside from boosting your company’s trustworthiness in the eyes of clients and consumers, having an ISO standard certification also gives you an advantage over your competitors who have not yet acquired theirs.

Common ISO Standards

To date, ISO boasts almost 22,000 standards and certifications covering a wide variety of operational aspects. Below are some of the most common standards companies strive for:

  • ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management Standard

    Last updated in 2015, ISO 9001:2015 specifies the requirements for a company’s QMS (Quality Management System). It aims to assess an operation’s ability to consistently deliver high-quality products and services while meeting customer expectations and relevant statutory and regulatory requirements.

  • ISO 22000 – Food Safety Standard

    ISO 22000 provides requirements for developing and implementing a Food Safety Management System (FSMS). This certification is a must-have for companies in the food processing and food service industries.

  • ISO 27001 – Information Security Standard

    Another popular ISO standard, ISO 27001 is concerned with a company’s ability to implement an effective Information Security Management System (ISMS) in order to keep confidential business information safe from unauthorized access.

  • ISO 31000 – Risk Management Standard

    The ISO 31000 certification sets the standard for frameworking, designing, implementing, and maintaining a risk management system on a company-wide level.

  • ISO 45001:2018 – Workplace Safety Standard

    Last updated in 2018, ISO 45001 sets the international standard for Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Management Systems. Failure to comply can lead to incidents, cost overruns, and even lawsuits.

Other notable ISO standards include ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 17025 (Laboratory Testing), and ISO 13485 (Quality Management of Medical Devices).

The 3 Methods: Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen

Modern manufacturing SOPs (standard operating procedures) vary depending on the industry, nature of the business, business size, and branding. What highly successful corporations have in common, however, is their use of the tried and tested QA/QC methods listed below.

Six Sigma

After Motorola pioneered the use of Six Sigma in the mid-80’s, several companies across a wide range of industries have since adapted it as a standard business practice. 

Six Sigma is a problem-solving method that aims to reduce defects and manage variations from set internal specifications. The term “Sigma” in statistics refers to the standard deviation from the mean or average of a process data set. 

As a concrete example, a process needs to have a maximum of only 3.4 defects per one million opportunities to be considered of “Six Sigma Quality.”

Six Sigma has three main goals:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Reduce production/service costs
  • Increase profits

Methodologies

In order to obtain Six Sigma certification, management must first determine if they’re trying to improve an existing product or process or create a new one.

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)

The DMAIC methodology is used to improve existing processes that fail to achieve set goals:
Define customer needs and expected results.
Measure relevant empirical data such as current performance.
Analyze available data and do a root-cause analysis to accurately identify the real problem instead of its symptoms.
Improve the current process by conceptualizing solutions from the expected output, current performance, and identified root cause.
Control the new process to avoid deviations beyond standard limits. This step may be done as many times as needed until the process has been optimized to meet project goals.

DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)

By contrast, the DMADV methodology is used to come up with new processes or products of
Six Sigma Quality:
Define goals for product design and functionality based on customer needs and the organization’s identity.
Measure the viability of ideal production rate, product capabilities, and possible obstacles or causes of failure.
Analyze objectives to develop optimal design.
Design a product or service based on the available information.
Verify design through rigorous testing.

Lean

As Toyota rose to become one of the top automotive manufacturers in the world, it also popularized Lean (or Lean Manufacturing), a management philosophy later adapted by other companies. 

The primary focus of Lean is to identify and eliminate “waste” in the production process in order to improve overall efficiency. “Waste” is described as steps and/or arrangements deemed unnecessary by logical analysis and which must be discontinued.

More specifically, Lean aims to identify the presence of and eliminate the “Seven Deadly Wastes” detailed below:

  1. Overproduction – When your product supply exceeds customer demand
  2. Waiting – When too much time is spent waiting in between steps in production and nothing is being accomplished
  3. Transport – Inefficient transportation of materials and finished products
  4. Motion – Inefficient execution by workers, equipment, or machines
  5. Overprocessing – When there are unnecessary processing steps taken or the processing standards are inefficient
  6. Inventory – When inventory levels exceed necessity and the workload is too high that it negatively affects quality
  7. Defects – Amount of work dedicated to identifying and fixing production mistakes

Tools

Though numerous companies apply Lean principles to their operations, their techniques and tools of choice may vary. Below are some of the most widely used tools and techniques for practicing Lean:

5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)

The 5S system focuses on organizing the workplace, ensuring that items, equipment, documents, and other workplace staples are in their proper places so that work performance can improve organically through management and safety.

Step 1 – Sort (Seiri)
Ensure that:

  • only necessary tools and equipment are present in the work area;
  • only necessary furniture are present in the work area;
  • only necessary items, materials, and supplies are present in the work area;
  • all working, walking, and standing areas are free from trip hazards

Step 2 – Set in Order (Seiton)
Ensure that:

  • tools and equipment are clearly identified (numbered, named, color-coded, etc.) and placed in a sensible location;
  • when applicable, furniture are clearly identified and placed in a sensible location;
  • items, materials, and supplies are in their designated containers and properly labeled for easy identification;
  • paperwork and other documents are properly compiled, labeled, and have clear identified locations away from work surfaces;
  • work areas requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) are clearly marked via safety signs or labels;
  • stop switches and breakers are clearly visible and easily accessible in case of emergency;
  • fire hoses, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment are prominently displayed and unobstructed for easy access;
  • floors/aisles are clearly marked and forklift lanes, exits, hazardous areas, paths of egress, walkways, etc. are all marked and labeled with visible lines (floor tape/floor paint);
  • work stations are ergonomic, tools and items needed for work are stored at appropriate heights, anti-fatigue mats are in place when applicable, safety signages are clearly displayed; and
  • workspace layout allows for unobstructed exits and the emergency exit route is easily located.

Step 3 – Shine (Seiso)
Ensure that:

  • work areas, including machines, furniture, and fixtures are kept clean as much as possible;
  • walls, partitions, rails, etc. are kept clean and painted;
  • floors are free from dirt, debris, oil, parts, hardware, empty boxes, etc. and all drains, if applicable, are clear of debris and clogs;
  • containers, boxes, bins, etc. are clean, undamaged, and neatly stacked in their correct location;
  • PPEs are maintained, sanitized, and in good condition as well as properly stored and easily accessible;
  • cleaning equipment are properly stored and easily accessible;
  • safety warning signs are clean, easy to read, undamaged, and unobstructed; and
  • there is a posted schedule showing times, frequency, and person in-charge responsible for cleaning areas of the workplace.

Step 4 – Standardize (Seiketsu)
Ensure that:

  • all tools, equipment, documents, etc. are to be stored neatly in their designated areas after use;
  • equipment maintenance records are easily accessible and clearly state when the last maintenance occurred;
  • product waste (shavings, containers, liquids, wrappers, etc.) are consistently and regularly cleaned and disposed of;
  • preventive measures are implemented to ensure the workplace adheres to 5S guidelines;
  • the work environment provides sufficient lighting, comfortable temperatures, sufficient air flow and quality, etc.;
  • the results of the previous 5S audit are posted and clearly visible for the team’s reference; and
  • the areas for improvement identified in the previous audit are addressed

Step 5 – Sustain (Shitsuke)
Ensure that:

  • a member of upper management has participated in at least one of the past three 5S audit periods;
  • recognition is given to teams actively involved in 5S activities;
  • time and resources are allocated for 5S activities (e.g., designated daily/weekly clean-up time, 5S meeting with team leader, etc.);
  • all operators, team leaders, and supervisors, are assigned 5S activities to be completed at least once a week; and
  • the team took the initiative to make improvements to the workplace that were NOT identified during the last audit, if applicable.
  • With proper utilization and consistent practice, companies benefit from 5S through reduced costs, improved efficiency, and a safer working space.
PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

PDCA (or PDSA) is a problem-solving technique developed by W. Edwards Deming that aims to accomplish the following:

  1. Plan: Establish the desired result and propose a solution to achieve it
  2. Do: Test the proposed solution and gather data to gauge effectiveness
  3. Check (or Study for PDSA): Study/analyze the data gathered from the test and compare results to desired outcome
  4. Act or Adjust: Make adjustments to the solution based on the data from the “do” and “check” phases until the goal is achieved

Another staple in Toyota’s business process is the A3 Report, referred to as such for it being a one-page report usually printed on A3-size papers. The A3 Report uses Deming’s PDCA/PDSA problem-solving technique to identify, eradicate, and prevent problems in operations.

5 Whys

Toyota pioneered multiple manufacturing and management models that have become business standards in several organizations, and 5 Whys is no exception. This Lean technique is used by team managers to identify the root cause of a problem by asking “why” five times until it is discovered.

Here’s an example of 5 Whys in action:

Problem – The team failed to meet last month’s sales quota

  1. Why did the team fail to meet the quota?
    We ran out of products in the middle of the 3rd week.
  2. Why did we run out of products?
    We were only able to produce 70% of the projected demand
  3. Why did we fail to produce 100% of the product demands?
    Our materials for production had expired
  4. Why did our materials expire?
    We failed to check expiry dates
  5. Why did we fail to check expiry dates?
    No designated team or person was assigned to check them

Root-cause – There is no process for assigning who is in charge of monitoring materials

Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “change for good,” but is more loosely translated in the west as “continuous improvement.” What makes it different from other process improvement methods is that it aims to involve the entire organization, from top management to the assembly line workers, in its implementation. Having a Kaizen Culture in your organization means each individual, regardless of rank, is empowered to look for opportunities to improve every day, no matter how small.

Tools

Listed below are some of the most common Kaizen implementation tools used by companies:

  • SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers)

    SIPOC is a mapping tool with the primary objective of ensuring clarity in process workflows. By doing so, unnecessary activities are discontinued, accountability becomes clear, and the overall process is optimized for maximum efficiency.

  • Gemba Walk

    Performing a gemba walk means that executives, on a regular basis, will walk around the actual space where the work is being done (be it the production floor of a call center or a manufacturing plant) in order to observe objectively, understand the process, ask questions, and identify opportunities for improvement. Its goal is to ensure that upper management learns how things are actually done, instead of simply commenting on and reviewing individual work performance.

  • 8D Report

    The 8D Report or the Eight Disciplines Model is a problem-solving technique used to contain, resolve, or prevent issues identified in a product or process by quality engineers and other responsible personnel. Initially only used by the automotive industry due to Ford’s influence, it is now widely used in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and retail, with great success. The 8D Report is a comprehensive method that aims to eliminate problems by identifying and attacking its root cause(s). It achieves this by utilizing a combination of expertise, data analysis, management tools, and data validation.

Fundamental Procedures

To come up with a great product or service, management can’t just sit back and let the business take care of itself. A truly successful and sustainable operation has an effective QA/QC strategy to keep product and service quality consistently high across all stores, branches, and service centers.

Build a Dedicated Quality Team

Having a dedicated QA/QC Team composed of personnel with the proper credentials should be a priority. Even in start-ups, where funding is limited and time-frames are shorter, a good quality team can help your operation meet or even exceed performance goals.

Before creating a team, consider the employee’s knowledge of your specific product/service along with prior experience in the same industry before they joined your company. 

Often, top performers are screened for the QA role because they have a good understanding of what makes the product/service work and what the customers want, so that supply and demand are reconciled. Being a top performer is also a good indication of an individual’s diligence towards their work, something the quality team is expected to exercise at all times.

Define Your Performance Goal

It may sound like a no-brainer, but plenty of quality teams, especially when starting out without a tested template to follow, make the elementary mistake of not clearly defining what success means for their product or service.

Quality teams must consider the current performance of their product and/or service, define a SMART goal, and then strive to eliminate all of the processes, steps, and obstacles that do not contribute to the achievement of said goal.

Choose the Best Method 

Aside from the ones mentioned previously in the article, there are many other QA/QC methods available today. While Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen offer generally applicable procedures for improving overall quality, using the right tools to implement these methods increases their effectiveness.

A high standard for quality assurance and quality control makes all the difference between established global brands and struggling businesses. The entire organization, from top management to frontline workers, must be dedicated in creating a culture of quality and safety for all members to do their best work.

How to Improve QC Procedures

Quality control procedures ensure that manufactured products conform to predetermined quality criteria or meet customer requirements. Improving quality control is vital for the continued success of any business in manufacturing and production. Consistently delivering high-quality products through processes that are at par with industry standards and looking out for ways to further improve quality control can help your business stay on top.

  • Step 1: Engage all staff

    Involve all employees and gain their buy-in and commitment to adhere to the organization’s quality standards and processes. Conduct onboarding for new hires and refresher training for tenured employees to help them understand that maintaining the quality of products and services is everyone’s responsibility, not only of leadership or the quality management team.

  • Step 2: Be proactive

    Reinforce quality control procedures through regular quality checks and immediately address nonconformance discovered during internal audits. Discuss improvement opportunities during employee trainings. Keep employees up-to-date on new processes and encourage them to share best practices and provide suggestions on how to further improve quality.

  • Step 3: Automate recordkeeping

    Documentation of quality control monitoring is not only required in maintaining quality and safety standards but is also a resource for continuous quality improvement. Conventional paper-based recordkeeping methods can be cumbersome and time-consuming, preventing some auditors from regularly documenting internal checks. Utilize automated digital recordkeeping to save time and ensure that internal checks are consistently recorded.

  • Step 4: Seek improvement opportunities

    Conduct customer surveys, review incident reports, learn from past mistakes in your organization and others in the business, stay up-to-date with industry best practices, and be on the lookout for new technology that can help improve processes and implementation of quality standards in your organization.

  • Step 5: Utilize technology

    Save time and maximize resources for quality control by using new technology such as sensors that automate monitoring of quality parameters and mobile auditing tools to record and analyze information that paper audit forms cannot capture.

Examples

Listed below are different examples of QA/QC, including templates for each area or type of operation. Utilizing the right quality assurance and quality control template for the job can help boost efficiency, prevent downtime, and ensure worker safety.

Top 3 Templates

  1. Free Quality Audit Templates
    A quality audit is a systematic evaluation of products and services as well as business processes and systems used for production. It helps ensure that current quality is at par with set standards. A quality audit helps in the implementation of a sound quality management system (GMS) and in meeting ISO 9001 requirements.
  2. Free Compliance Audit Checklists
    A compliance audit is a systematic review of an organization’s adherence to predefined benchmarks set by a governing body. Compliance audits are performed by an auditing team to help the organization standardize processes, identify organizational gaps, and mitigate risks.
  3. Free CAPA Report Templates
    A CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action) Report is a tool used in identifying, addressing, and preventing regulatory and organizational non-conformance. Compliance officers record the details of an issue or incident on a CAPA Report form, which primarily includes a summary of the event, date of occurence, items and people involved, corrective actions taken, and preventive action established to avoid future recurrence.

For the QA Process

  • Free Check Sheet Templates
    A check sheet is a quality tool commonly used in the manufacturing industry to identify defects by type, location, or cause and analyze recorded data for improving the production process. As a data collection tool, check sheets enable frontline workers to capture and compile data in a consistent manner, interpret results as soon as they are collected, and observe trends from accurate data collected over time.
  • Free Visual Inspection Checklists
    Visual Inspection is a method of checking the overall visual appearance or localized visual defects of a product using the naked eye. Safety and quality assurance personnel across different industries perform visual inspections to comply with safety regulations and quality standards. In manufacturing facilities, regular visual inspections ensure conformance with product design requirements and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Free IATF Audit Checklists
    An IATF audit is the process of evaluating if an automotive manufacturer’s Quality Management System (QMS) aligns with the IATF 16949:2016 standard set by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF). Replacing ISO/TS 16949, the IATF 16949:2016 standard aims to establish a QMS that facilitates continuous improvement, prevents defect, and helps reduce waste in the automotive supply chain.
  • Free OEE Report Templates
    An Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Report details the availability, performance, and quality of output of a given piece of equipment and its corresponding production process. Manufacturers use the OEE report as a diagnostic tool for locating the source of inefficiencies in their operations. Quality managers should report overall equipment effectiveness on a regular basis to gain insight on process improvement and boost manufacturing productivity.

For the QC Process

  • Free Layered Process Audit Checklists
    Layered Process Auditing (LPA) is a quality management system in manufacturing that is designed to add layers of protection against critical risks that can lead to rework, customer complaints, costly product recalls, and damage to the company’s reputation. In an LPA, different “layers” of auditors are assigned the exact same set of audits to ensure that high-risk steps in production do not deviate from set specifications.
  • Free Factory Acceptance Test Checklists
    A Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) is used to verify that newly produced equipment works according to its construction code and purchase order specifications. It is performed by quality managers, design engineers, operators, and maintenance personnel in the manufacturing facility before delivery and installation at the clients’ site.
  • Free PDI Checklists
    A Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI) ensures that a newly bought vehicle is ready for the road and safe to drive before handing it over to the customer. It is usually performed at the dealership, where inspectors check every aspect of the vehicle such as the fuel and exhaust system, engine compartment, and electrical controls. PDIs also include a road test to ensure general steering and handling, transmission, and brake operation are in good working condition.
  • Free Dock Audit Templates
    A dock audit is a quick, final inspection of finished products before they are sealed, boxed, and approved for shipping. It is a visual inspection typically performed by quality control inspectors on the shipping dock of a warehouse shortly before the product is loaded onto a freight truck for delivery. Dock audits are primarily done to catch defective and non-compliant products before they are shipped. This helps manufacturers avoid customer complaints, maintain a good business reputation, and encourage a culture of consistent, high-quality work. There is no regulating body that controls the frequency of dock audits and manufacturers can decide to perform them as often as they see fit.

For Vendor and Supplier Audits

  • Free Vendor Risk Assessment Checklists
    A vendor risk assessment is the process of screening and evaluating third party suppliers as potential business partners. It aims to identify risks and hazards associated with the vendor’s processes and products and determine if they are fit and qualified with the requirements set by the organization.
  • Free Factory Audit Checklists
    A factory audit is a standardized process used by quality managers to determine if a supplier or vendor conforms with the required business standards in delivering high quality products and services. Performing regular factory audits involves the evaluation of a supplier’s Quality Management System (QMS), organization, production processes and compliance with safety measures.
  • Free Supplier Audit Checklists
    A supplier audit is a formalized system of evaluating the reliability and competency of suppliers and vendors to deliver a quality service. It is foundational in establishing a strong customer-supplier relationship. The supplier auditing process aims to assess and promote the smooth operation in key business areas such as manufacturing, engineering, invoicing, QA, and shipping.
  • Free Corrective Action Request Forms
    A corrective action request is a formal notification sent to the supplier for rectifications to be done on a nonconforming item, process, or service. Suppliers respond to a corrective action request to report the root cause of a nonconformity and the applied corrective actions to prevent recurrence.

Quality Management for New Businesses 

  • Free FMEA Templates
    Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a systematic method of anticipating potential failures in business processes and mitigating their impact on customers. An FMEA template is used by product design or process improvement teams to determine the risk priority number (RPN) of the mechanism of failure and monitor the corrective actions delegated to key personnel.
  • Free SOP Templates
    A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a standardized process that outlines a set of detailed instructions to help workers perform complex tasks properly and safely. The main objective of SOPs is to develop an effective quality system, reduce work variations and comply with industry-specific regulations and standards. Failure to follow SOPs can cause significant errors in production and operations.
  • Free Incoming Inspection Checklists
    An incoming inspection, also known as a receiving inspection or material inspection, validates the quality of purchased raw materials based on set acceptance criteria. It is performed by quality assurance personnel in the manufacturing facility to resolve quality issues during pre-production. Incoming inspection results follow an identification tagging system to determine required actions when an item is tagged as accepted, conditionally accepted, or rejected.
  • Free PPAP Checklists
    Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) is an 18-step guideline for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers. Manufacturing plant managers can use PPAP checklists to show that OEMs and suppliers understand customer specifications and ensure that their manufacturing process consistently produces conforming parts at the quoted production rate. Customers examine the PPAP documents and determine the production part approval process status—fully approved, interim approval, or rejected.
  • Free APQP Checklists
    Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a structured process employed when introducing a new product in the market or incorporating changes in the product after its release. A Cross-Functional Team (CFT) composed of engineering, manufacturing, quality, procurement, and distribution professionals can use an APQP checklist to ensure that products meet or even exceed customer requirements.
  • Free FAI Forms
    A First Article Inspection (FAI) is the process of verifying the design requirements of a product from the first production run. Quality inspectors can use FAI forms when there is a 2-year lapse in production or when there are significant changes in the product, including design, manufacturing source/process, location of manufacture, tooling/materials, or computer-generated program that can affect its fit, form, or function.

Quality Management for Food Manufacturing

  • Free Process Validation Report Templates
    A process validation report provides proper documentation of qualification protocols, such as equipment qualification, installation qualification, operational qualification, and performance qualification, as evidence that a manufacturing process is capable of consistently delivering quality products. Quality assurance managers in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry use a process validation report template to ensure compliance with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, especially before the routine commercial production for a new formula or within a new facility and when well-established processes have not undergone a formally documented validation.
  • Free FDA Inspection Templates
    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects regulated facilities to ensure their compliance with the laws and good manufacturing practice regulations surrounding the manufacture, labeling, and handling of food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics that are commercially distributed in the US. FDA inspections are conducted on both local and foreign establishments as long as the products are intended for US distribution. Also, new drugs and biologics require FDA approval before they are introduced to the US market.
  • Free HACCP Plan Templates
    A HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan is a food safety monitoring system that is used to identify and control biological, chemical, and physical hazards within the storage, transportation, use, preparation, and sale of perishable goods. It also determines critical control points (CCP) in the process of food production. Create a HACCP plan to mitigate risks of food contamination and avoid legal issues caused by foodborne illnesses.
  • Free VACCP Templates
    VACCP (Vulnerability Assessment Critical Control Points) is a systematic method to proactively identify and control food production vulnerabilities that can lead to food fraud. Food fraud is the deliberate “substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging” for economic gain. VACCP aims to help protect businesses from the risk of food fraud that can cause serious food safety incidents, costly product recalls, business closure, and legal action.
  • Free TACCP Templates
    TACCP (Threat Assessment Critical Control Points) is a management process that aims to protect food products from deliberate contamination that is intended to cause harm. Also called food defense, TACCP helps proactively identify and manage control points in the supply chain that can be at risk of intentional contamination.

Quality Management for Construction Companies

  • Free Operational Readiness Checklists
    An operational readiness checklist is a structured project assessment tool that outlines the processes that must be taken before work commences. Using an operational readiness checklist can help ensure that the correct safety and mandatory measures have been taken care of so operations can proceed without a hitch.
  • Free Commissioning Checklists
    A commissioning checklist is used in the process of verifying the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies to ensure trouble-free outcomes and mitigate the risk of unplanned outages. Project managers, contractors, and construction engineers also perform pre-commissioning to confirm that equipment installation and function follows client specifications.
  • Free Project Audit Templates
    A project audit is an assessment of a project’s status against predefined success criteria and helps uncover issues and opportunities for existing and future projects. It is commonly performed for complex projects involving building & construction, engineering & design, IT & software development and organizational restructuring. It is performed by project managers or external auditors and often involves extensive interviews with project team members and stakeholders.
  • Free Non-Conformance Report
    A non-conformance report (NCR) is a document commonly used in construction industries to document work that has not met required quality standards. These reports are an essential part of the quality control process and aim to mitigate risks by implementing corrective actions and to prevent similar situations from recurring.

Quality Management for Retail and Hospitality

  • Free Restaurant Audit Checklists
    Restaurant audit checklists can help inspectors assess if establishments are aligned with the set standards for food safety and hygiene, housekeeping, and facility maintenance. Business owners, auditors, and quality assurance teams can use these restaurant audit templates to benchmark performance, identify and address issues and assign appropriate actions.
  • Free Retail Store Audit Checklists
    Retail store audit checklists are tools that can be used to effectively control and monitor the status, branding, processes, and standardization of retail outlets. Retail store audit checklists can be used by store managers or auditors to evaluate the effectiveness of store displays, keep track of product inventory, observe store employees, and ensure the cleanliness and safety of the retail store.
  • Free Mystery Shopper Checklists
    A mystery shopper checklist is a tool used by secret shoppers to assess and record customer experience feedback. It is a method used by companies or organizations for internal or competitive market research purposes. A mystery shopper checklist evaluates retail stores, hotels, and restaurants on areas such as customer service, cleanliness, product quality, overall layout of the establishment, safety, and many others to ensure compliance with regulations or service guidelines.
  • Free Customer Satisfaction Survey Templates
    Customer satisfaction surveys are useful tools to measure engagement with a product or service offering. These are commonly used by retail businesses such as shops, hotels and restaurants to identify areas of improvement and maintain customer retention. An alternative to traditional online surveys and paper forms to capture customer satisfaction results is using digital kiosks. Having customers fill out feedback via an onsite digital kiosk can help you capture relevant and timely feedback.
  • Free Call Monitoring Forms
    Call monitoring, also called agent monitoring or call logging, is the process conducted by call center managers to evaluate agent interactions with the customers. Subjected to quality assurance tests, live or recorded calls are evaluated with or without the agent’s knowledge to audit performance and improve the quality of calls.

QA Inspection Checklist: 3 Principles to Follow in Creating an Effective Template

“Quality is everyone’s responsibility,” claimed the renowned engineer, professor, and management consultant W. Edwards Deming. Quality assurance, however, is a continuous process. A process that becomes harder to complete when the complexities of large-scale production and servicing are introduced. In order to stay true to a company’s promise of quality, something as simple as an effective QA inspection checklist can be the X factor.

Below are the principles QA inspection checklists must follow in order to become effective:

  1. It must consider input from different stakeholders

    Creating a product or rendering a service is a step-by-step process. Often, each step is handled by a dedicated department specializing in that section. For this reason, acquiring input from the different experts that are actually involved in the process is important since it informs your QA inspection checklist with data and insights founded on solid bases.

  2. It must be uniform for all sites and branches

    A good QA inspection checklist informed by the expertise and insights from relevant stakeholders is only as good as its effective implementation. To keep quality output consistent throughout the entire organization, quality assurance officers must ensure that the same QA inspection checklist is being used by all sites and branches. This minimizes product quality variation between manufacturing sites and locations.

  3. It must be updated regularly and whenever necessary

    The processes and standards of operations evolve due to numerous factors over time. Since a QA inspection checklist serves as one of the final checkpoints before a product or service is deemed fit for delivery, organizations must ensure that the standards enforced by their QA inspection checklist is consistent with their current quality standards.

The Pros and Cons of Internal vs. External QA Practices

Budgets, preferences, and laws all influence a company’s decision to favor one type of QA practice over the other. Some companies even choose to employ a hybrid of internal and external QA practices to achieve and maintain compliance with quality standards. Regardless of your QA method of choice, each has its own pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Internal QA Inspections

Pros Cons
No need to hire external consultants and auditors so the company saves money. The data collected may be biased and may be used to cover up employee negligence and other malicious activities.
Since actual employees of the company are performing the audit, they are sure to have good context and proper understanding as to what quality looks like for the business. Management may end up becoming too lenient when it comes to enforcing recommended changes since there is no external pressure to do so.
The internal audit department can verify the accuracy of inspection reports faster since data is available in-house. Internal QA inspectors may become more and more complacent over time as they start treating the practice like a chore. 

Pros and Cons of External QA Inspections

Pros Cons
Third-party quality inspectors bring additional experience and knowledge built from conduction quality inspections for several different companies Hiring a third-party quality inspector to conduct QA audits can be expensive.
Third-party quality inspectors can provide an unbiased and objective assessment report; something that may be an issue when with in-house quality inspectors. While the perspective of a third-party auditor may be valued due to its perceived objectivity, their QA inspection may end up becoming ineffective if they lack the specialized knowledge required to understand and properly assess a specific product/service.
Having a third-party inspector conduct audits allows workers to focus on their regular day-to-day tasks. The queries and demands of external auditors may require employees to work extra hours and accomplish additional tasks which contributes to workplace stress.

Streamlining Your QA Inspection Process With the Help of a Mobile App

Successful businesses, regardless of their product or service, value quality. Valuing quality means investing in the right resources in order to consistently deliver at the highest level. Using iAuditor by SafetyCulture as a versatile mobile inspection app, businesses can achieve and maintain quality in their products and services by taking advantage of the following features:

  • Easily create and customize your own QA inspection checklists with iAuditor’s simple drag-and-drop template builder. Additionally, you can download pre-made general templates from our public library, or convert your existing QA inspection checklist into our digital format. 
  • Pick and choose response types including multiple choice, check box, yes/no, and long and short text answers among others to make sure you get the data you need and filter out the rest. 
  • Capture and include high-quality photo evidence mid-inspection and annotate them to easily communicate your findings. This adds clarity to your reports to ensure that issues are identified, understood, and resolved ASAP. 
  • Set and trigger automatic assignments once certain conditions are met. You can also assign standalone corrective actions with priority levels so issues are triaged and resolved in order of urgency.
  • No need to manually compile data to create a report post-inspection. Automatically generate professional reports after completing your inspection so you can share the information to relevant stakeholders in real-time; improving visibility across your organization.
  • Have quality inspectors validate inspection reports via digital sign-offs to improve and streamline accountability.
SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Juhlian Pimping

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.